‘My goal is to marginalise the criminal gangs and get gold into credited refiners and into our ecosystem, and in so doing redirect flows away from nefarious actors’
THIS is a good time to be cheering gold. Geopolitical tensions are giving momentum to bullion while underwhelming global growth and rising debt in the US continue to provide more fundamental support to gold’s price. David Tait has certainly ridden this feel-good wave. This is no better illustrated than by the glitzy documentary Gold: A Journey With Idriss Elba, which was produced by the council. Tait’s success, however, will be truly gauged not by the bright lights but how he’s been able to promote gold’s prospects beyond the current cycle.
He last year announced a strategy to digitise gold trade in such a way that it would be easier – frictionless, he calls it – to be incorporated into the systems of large commercial banks. Before this can truly happen, it’s first necessary to improve the provenance of the metal’s production. In September, all 33 council members, representing 1,300 tons of annual production, agreed to regularly publish the names and locations of their refining partners. A bar integrity programme is also part of this strategy. In this way artisanal mining, which may account for 30% of all production, can be “dragged into the open”, as the UK’s The Times described it.
The council also agreed a plan with central banks of countries battling illegal gold mining to enshrine 12 principles that include stamping out child labour and mercury usage in gold extraction. The banks also agreed to incentivise artisanal miners to sell them their production rather than to criminal gangs. An Al Jazeera report last year showing how illegal miners in Zimbabwe landed gold in Dubai’s souks via formal institutions in Southern Africa demonstrates the scale of the problem.
LIFE OF DAVID
Prior to joining the World Gold Council in 2018, Tait was global head of fixed macro products at Credit Suisse. He started in banking about 35 years ago at Goldman Sachs before joining Credit Suisse. He is an independent member of the Bank of England’s market standards board. Tait is also highly regarded for child protection advocacy work, receiving an MBE for services to the Rebuilding Childhoods Board. Tait has raised a total of £1.5m by summiting Mount Everest on five occasions. A motion picture depicting his life story, Sulphur and White, received a royal world premiere in 2020.